Friday, December 31, 2021

The Best and Worst in Cincinnati Politics for 2021

It is time once again to look back over the past year and pick out the highs and lows of Cincinnati politics. 2021 gave a reason to directly deal with Cincinnati Politics that has been missing with the advent of 4 year council terms, something that has thankfully ended.

With that jolly thought in mind, I need to remind the few readers that this listing is a HIGHLY scientific process based on a combination of high level mathematics, caffeine, and the desire to illustrate the good, bleak, and pointlessness of the many varied political undertakings of the past year.

The Best
  1. Democrats Elect Eight to City Council: A new beginning with a good team. 
  2. Aftab Wins Mayor's Race by Large Margin: Positive leadership for the City and the region.
  3. Smart Move: Democrats refusing to allow cross party endorsements of candidates. They were attacked for doing this, but it was a wise choice and most importantly, it worked.
  4. Liz Keating Sneaking on Council: Her appointment to City Council in late 2020 was dubious at best, but her tenure on council was as a very moderate candidate, at least in appearances.  Getting the Charter endorsement was the kicker that got her enough votes to get the last spot on Council.
  5. Defeating Both Issue 3 Ballot initiatives:
    • In May during the Primary Election far left wing activists tried a massive power grab for a group of unelected social service leaders and their advocates.
    • In November everyone saw through Tom Brinkman fronting for an ill conceived Republican Donor backed effort to cripple the city.
The Worst
  1. The Republican Party: Anyone with any amount of experience following politics would be able to identify the set of positive circumstances for Republicans heading into the 2021 election: a) A corruption scandal, expanded by the GOP fishing expedition enabled by a Republican Judge, b) an increase in shootings (though not an overall increase in crime), and c) Three sitting Republicans on council as incumbents.  Throw in tons of suburban Republican money and they were poised to win some power on council. They still couldn't field enough candidates for a five person majority, let alone anything close to a full slate of candidates.  They ended up with one member elected in the last position.  That candidate ran publically as a very moderate candidate that likely connected well with moderate women..  The more conservative candidates lost far more significantly.  A complete failure.  Any other political party would fire people over this. 
  2. Tom Brinkman: The guy is a right wing extremist who is against the the existence of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He thought somehow he could find a way to waste a ton of money on a fruitless campaign. He didn't even bother creating a website for his council campaign.  He knew he was going to lose. He also essentially lost twice.  He got his ass kicked in the council race and his Ballot Issue lost big time as well.  He wasted a ton of Republican money and that would be a redeeming quality if he did it on purpose, which he did not. He may try to run for something county wide. He may find he won't fair much better, no matter how much GOP money the fat cats are willing to waste on him.
  3. Issue 3 for a $50 Million power grab: This was a terrible ballot issue that appears to have been crafted to either intentionally fail or to force the City to gut the funding of the Police Department. I list those too extremes because it was a horribly written issue that put all of the big issues onto City Council to figure out and then clean up with no direction. I don't know how any honest group could put if forward as it did they thought it was good policy. It also gave unelected left wing activists power with no checks or balances or the ability of the public to have oversight certain portions of unelected board given this power. I person did not vote for anyone who publicly supported the Ballot Issue.  What is sad and likely shows the cynical intent of its originators is that a large group of people felt they had to support this because they support creating more affordable house.  This Ballot issue was a really bad way to do that.
  4. Supporters of Issue 3: Beyond the badly written ballot issue, there were so many puritanical supporters of this issue who viewed getting it passed as a litmus test.  Those who did not have absolute support for the issue were vilified and often ostracized by its most vocal supporters.  Hell of a way to run a railroad or social movement....
  5. Independent Progressives: Adding to the Issue 3 fiasco, they lost BIGTIME in the City Council Election.  If you are going to run against the Democratic Party, then you better learn to be a unified party with viable candidates that might build up a credible following.  Instead, they support 'Socialists' with no viable ways to govern a city. Leftist activists are not good political leaders, they are just attention seekers.  Organize a team with common viable goals, not a bunch of crackpots who have a bunch of bad political views that not only are bad policies, they are policies that can't win outside of leftist clubs on college campuses. 
  6. Michelle Dillingham's Campaign: A simple rule to follow when you want the endorsement of a political party, don't work against and criticize that same political party. The Democratic Party in Cincinnati had a clear goal for its candidates, unity.  Dillingham did not want to be unified with anyone.  Her campaign was about being aggressive and working against certain groups. She did not demonstrate that she wanted to work with other who frankly are not far off on policies. Her crusade against SORTA and the bus service was incomprehensible. Sure, it riled up some parents that may have turned into voters, but attacking public transit is not a winning position for any left of center political candidate.
  7. Brian Garry Campaign: From passing out intentionally misleading and dishonest campaign literature at the polls to alienating a campaign manager, Brian Garry demonstrated why he would not be a good member of council or any elected office.  I hope this is end of him running again.  He needs to move on from politics.
  8. The Charter Committee: They had several solid candidates, but they did not have a wide reaching organization to get support. The de facto political party lacks the infrastructure of the two major parties and it shows.  They need to reassess what they are doing and how they approach Cincinnati Elections if they are going to ever have an impact, again.
  9. Anyone Who Believed That City Council Poll: A political 'poll' made the rounds amongst political circles and many people believed it, especially the Enquirer's Jason Williams and perennial Republican candidate Charlie Winburn. I don't know who conducted or paid for the polls, but the one I saw only included four endorsed Democrats in the top nine. Williams looked like a fool when he had a column that included most of this poll's top nine as his prediction. He is not good political analyst and is a hack columnist.  The poll was at best a favorability or name recognition survey, not a true poll, something very difficult to do with an at-large nine-seat race. Here's hoping that people who follow politics take more time to understand the evolving electorate, instead of thinking the election of 15 or 20 years ago is the same as today.
Moving on from the Best/Worst, here are couple more tidbits that I either learned this year:
  1. If you think Democrats are going to do this well in Council Elections every year, you are mistaken. They will have an advantage for the next couple elections, but the electorate will change again. I don't see it getting any more Republican, but moderate candidates have a very doable path to get on council next time around.
  2. Price Hill and Westwood are no longer Republican Strongholds in City politics. There are a few pockets, but conservative white flight has continued.
That's all I got. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Cincinnati Neighborhood Populations From the 2020 Census

 Understanding Cincinnati's neighborhoods is a complex undertaking.  Knowing the boundaries of each neighborhood is a contested concept before any other considerations are made.  The population of each neighborhood is therefore going to have criticism. I've taken a leap and come up with an updated population summary based on my determination, down to the block level. I used a 2010 set of maps from the City of Cincinnati's website with census data breakdowns that included Tract and BlockGroup details per neighborhood.  I compared that information and made adjustments based on changes to the 2020 census that included changes to the Tract, BlockGroup and Blocks designations.

That was annoying.  Why the United States Census Bureau would change tract numbers within an old city like Cincinnati is beyond my knowledge. I'd surmise it would beyond any reasonable logic available. If you know why, don't tell, but still let me know, my hairline could use an additional reduction.  Anyway, I made my determination.  Here's what I have in alphabetical order for the population of each Cincinnati neighborhood based on the 2020 Census:


So, there are some obvious notations to point out: 1) My chart only shows 51 of the 52 Neighborhoods.  That is what they City did after the 2010 census, so I followed that pattern.  The missing neighborhood is the Heights, which is basically the University of Cincinnati Campus, but what it includes beyond that is more debated.  It is included with CUF in the chart above. 2) The block level variation comes down from two sources within the census data, the voting precinct data provided and the municipalities that split some BlockGroups.

If anyone has a variation and would like to compare data, I would be more than happy to exchange information.  Leave a comment, email me, or reach out on Twitter. 

Bonus chart: Here is the same data set, sorted in descending order by Total Population.

Update: I found a few errors and have corrected them in both charts.  Additionally, here is a comparison to the 2010 data I have.  There still could be some additional changes caused by variation in the Tract and detailed groupings.

Friday, December 10, 2021

2021 Cincinnati City Election Generation Turnout

Democrats won a Mega Majority on City Council this year and nearly as many Boomer's voted than GenXers and Millennials combined.

I just don't know what to say about this. The classic notion is if you don't participate, then you have zero credibility if you complain. I will be sure to find a way to point that out to annoying young leftists on Twitter that bug me.

For comparison here is the turnout in 2020 for the same set of registered voters from 2021.

A comparison of the two looks like this:

The younger generations are refusing to participate in elections in remotely similar ratios to older generations.  This is not a new occurrence, but I would speculate the Millennials are staying uninvolved longer than prior generations. We in GenX are nothing to crow about either, just to be fair.

What truly I don't get: Why bother to registered to vote if you are not going to vote? There are Tens of Thousands of people who don't bother to vote, but for some reason felt the need to register to vote.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

What was Turnout Like in the 2021 City of Cincinnati Elections?

The simple truth about the 2021 City of Cincinnati Election turnout is that it was historically low. There is no question that a large majority of registered voters did not want to vote in this election. Why it is low is not easy to answer with out more data.  People will make lots of claims about why, but they will be either anecdotal or speculation.  What I have below are some statistics based on turnout data from the BOE's live turnout tracker.  I have created these based on two data points that are derived on other data I have compiled.  

The first data point is on the race demographics of each precinct.  I used the 2020 census data that provided population by race within each precinct.  I made a determination of which race was a clear majority of each precinct.  Where there was not a clear majority or the numbers were close, I considered that precinct a mix.

The second data point is neighborhood.  I have assigned a single neighborhood identification to each precinct.  This assignment is very much an approximation.  Four neighborhoods are not represented as I determined they are a minority portion of another precinct.  This was done by reviewing varied maps provided by the City and by the County's CAGIS map software.  These assignments could certainly be debated and if someone sees an error, please let me know.

The first chart I have looks at turnout grouped by the majority race of each precinct for 2021 compared to the turnout of 2017.  Please note the numbers listed are NOT a total of people who are of a particular race. The numbers are the registered voters and those who voted in precincts that have a majority of a particular race. I am sure most people get this, but unfortunately some people don't like to read the details and will just point to parts of labels and extrapolate bad data.  I hope that does not happen.

The biggest take away I see here is that the reduction in turnout compared to 2017 was overall fairly equivalent through these segments.  There is a larger decrease in turnout in black majority precincts, than white majority precincts, but oddly enough the mixed precincts changed nearly the same as white majority precincts. There could have been an effect on the election if the turnout was more closely aligned, but at best that could have affected the ninth spot in the race. The lower turnout in black majority precincts is in line with the 2020 election where each of the segments had turnout of 56.35%, 57.64%, and 68.81% respectively, so there are no factors that would be variant with other recent elections.

The next chart dives into a comparison of the neighborhood and ward turnouts.  I included a comparison to 2017 turnout rates and a vote total retention number as well. As I stated before, these neighborhoods are approximate and they are broken out by ward, as several neighborhoods are split between more than one ward.  In this detail you can see many neighborhoods and wards did not drop in turnout, as compared to 2017, as much as others.  It's difficult to see big patterns, but you can see that certain neighborhoods had a bigger impact on the election.  Hyde Park is regularly an important neighborhood for elections and this year that continued.  I will be examining the success of each candidate in the neighborhoods as I compile more data from yesterday's election.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Where are the Election Night Parties?

 It have been four long years since a local election in Cincinnati and the best part of any election is celebrating with the winners and commiserating with the losers at election night parties.

Here is the list of announced parties I have found:

Aftab Pureval - Lucious Q in Pendleton
Jeff Cramerding - Taste of Belgium at the Banks
Charter Committee - Esoteric Brewing in Walnut Hills
Jackie Frondorf - West Side Brewing in Westwood

I'll add more as I they are made public.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Historical Data from Cincinnati Council Elections from 1991 through 2017

 Historical data from the Cincinnati Council Elections from 1991 through 2017.

The turnout has been at extremely low levels in 2013 and 2017.  The 2017 number is somewhat misleading with the increase in registered voters coming from the 2016 Presidential Election. We see a turnout in direct numbers increasing by 7.4% from 2013 to 2017.

Early reports from BOE indicates that turnout will be in the 30% to 35% range for the county.  That likely puts it on the lower end of that for the City, so it would be in line with recent elections.  One known point, the number of registered voters in 2021 is about 216,186, so less than 2017, but fairly comparable.

The most interesting facts:

  1. The average number of votes cast per ballot have historically been relatively consistent around 6.
  2. The top winning nine candidates have received at least 57% of all votes.

Friday, October 29, 2021

2021 Cincinnati City Council Election Non-Prediction Predictions

 I have no definitive knowledge of who will be the top nine vote getters on November 2nd.  I have no polling data.  I not aware of any polls having been conducted on the council race.  In conclusion, no one knows who is going to win and if you clicked on this article in the hopes of knowing that, well you are a fool. (Kidding, on the square)

That being said...I've done some analysis.  I compiled lots of data.  I've got the results of 2017 council and mayoral election.  I have the 2020 election results.  I have the 2020 census data compiled by voting precinct. I have a ton of information about the 35 candidates on the ballot.  I've reviewed all of that I have some thoughts on who likely will get elected to the Cincinnati City Council.

Before I get to that, I want to outline the core elements of the Cincinnati electorate, from perspective. I also will describe some of the key variables that will determine the winners and what are likely scenarios for who gets on council.

Cincinnati Voting Blocks
First off, what are the voting blocks in Cincinnati?  Oh, what do I mean by a voting block, you ask?  Well, I define a voting block as a group or classification of voters that have common characteristics that provide a referential means to identify political philosophy, Party, race, identity, or other views that would indicate how they would vote.  This is absolutely a generalization about people.  Without polling data that includes self assigned characteristics, there is no other way than to generalize.  I am trying to do that based on the data I have, the voting history of the City by precinct, and my experience in covering/observing Cincinnati elections. 

These groups are not monolithic. In a council race, some Republicans can and will vote for a Democrat and some Democrats will vote for a Republican.  For parties with more options, that is less common than parties with a short ticket. All in all this is kind of messy, but there is a means to judge who each group will support.

What that leaves are the following general voting blocks of voters. 

  1. Black Democrats - They will support the Democratic ticket. Is there evidence they support black candidates more than white candidates? Yes, some. 
  2. White Democrats - They will also support the Democratic ticket. Is there evidence they support white candidates more than black candidates? Yes, some.
  3. Moderates - To poorly use a Ghostbusters reference: this group likes to cross the streams. They will support some Democrats, some in Charter, some Republicans, and even Independents. They tend to support those who are bit more supportive of business and the police, but don’t like the extremes.
  4. Republicans - I've segmented out the Trumpists from this block as a significant number of Republicans in the City did not vote for Trump. The lines between some in this group and the Trumpists are blurry on most policy.
  5. Trumpists - This is a new block that is not large, but I've made distinct from Republicans because of what I see a degree of a split in the Republican Party, but also because of their voting variation.  These are the hard right Republicans.
  6. Black Conservatives - For much of the 21st Century I would call this the Winburn/Smitherman vote. They are going to support some Democrats and Charterites too.
  7. Progressives - This group has two components: Those to the left in the Democratic Parry and Leftists outside the Democratic Party. This group will vote for some Democrats and progressive Independents.

I assign no totals to these blocks, but on some levels they can be derived.  There are way more Democrats in the City of Cincinnati than Republicans.  There are not as many Progressives than some Progressives think there are.  Most candidates need support in more than one of these blocks to break into the top nine.  Sometimes they need three blocks to win.  It all depends on who votes.

So many things can change an election.  There can be one thing and there can be many things.  They can be conflicting and cancel each other out.  Some of them can be appear to be insignificant, but can make or break a candidates.  Some of these variables happen on election day and some are part of the campaign. These are not all of the possible variables, but they are what I think we can observe and evaluate.

  1. Overall Turnout - Candidates generally can't do much about this.  This relies on three things: 1) how easy it is to vote, 2) how well the Parties or other significant GOTV efforts worked, and 3) the weather.
  2. Voting Block Turnout - This is something candidates can have an impact on.  Consider this getting our your base, but in this type of an at large election other attributes can help.  Issues and topics can drive out one block and keep another at home.  If there are blocks tied to certain neighborhoods or parts of the City, those groups could see a serge in turnout if something that year matters.  
  3. Party Endorsement - This year may be a test for this idea, but getting a major party endorsement has nearly been a requirement to get elected to Cincinnati City Council  The value of the endorsement has structural advantages to the campaign in terms of resources, but this is as good as any signal for a majority of voters to understand a candidate's political views and their seriousness.
  4. Name Recognition - Incumbency is one version, being a prior elected official is another. Being well known helps as well. Having a well known last name does not hurt either.
  5. Fund Raising- Money matters. 
  6. Campaign Communications - This has several parts, but the core types are mailers, TV/radio ads, web ads, phone banking, and personal canvassing.  These largely rely on fundraising, but the messages used are also very  important. Negative campaigning is not very effective for one candidate to attack another. This hasn’t been seen so far in the council race. Getting outside groups to do it, that is more common, but how effective it is not a proven concept.
  7. Positions on policy or political philosophy - This can matter in some elections, but in reality, not as much as people think. Just because a candidate is for or against an policy is not enough, if that they can effectively communicate those ideas, they will get no where.
These variables at this point are mostly played out. You can get some turnout changes at this point, but most of the rest of these have occurred.

The only measurement of Turnout we can see is with early and absentee voting.  As of the end of last week, turnout is up significantly in comparison to turnout in 2017 at the last City Election.  With COVID-19's impact on early/absentee voting, this increase may be far less of a indication of higher turnout and instead part of the shift of votes that would have been cast on Election Day in person.  In comparison to the terrible turnout in 2017, I would predict that 2021 will exceed the 29% by a few percentage points at least. Not all of the increase is COVID related.

Who is going to have power on council?  That is the question that really matters.  That is also a question that could change depending on who gets electected.  Party affiliation is not a guarantee of unity.  Here are the likely possible combinations of who gets power.

  1. Democrats in Strong Control with 6 or 7 seats, 2-3 seats split between GOP/Charter - This would be considered a conventional wisdom outcome.  Many see this as the likely situation (some may call it inevitable.) A related version of this scenario would have 1 of GOP/Charter group go to an Independent Progressive Candidate. This is an example where the variable voting block turnout would come into play on the election.
  2. Democrats in Control with 5 seats - here you could see Dems with control, but the other 4 seats in all sort of combinations.  Turnout would drive the power of the rest, a surge for the GOP/Charter or a mix in of Charter/Independents could fill in numbers.  Dems would control and on many issue would have as much power as a 6 or 7 seat majority since most of the Charter or Independent candidates are Democrats.
  3. Charter/GOP in Control - This is the hope of the GOP.  They would need to get at least three to make this happen, and hope pro-business Charterites want to work together.
  4. No Dominant Party in Control -  This split could be amongst the three parties.  This could also be a mix of non-party endorsed.  This is also not that likely, but many candidates and their follows love to dream about it.

Candidate Groupings
I don’t know who is going to win, but I believe I have grouped together all of the candidates into a group that represents my opinion on their chances to win the 2021 City Council Election. I don’t know vote counts, so I really can’t rank the order of finish. With the number of candidates and a lower than normal sense of incumbency, the spread of votes could be tighter, making the race closer to get into the top nine. 

Likely to Win-They should win.

Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney
Greg Landsman

Strong Chance - The other 7 slots should come from this group, but it is not guaranteed.

Jeff Cramerding
Kevin Flynn
Steve Goodin
Reggie Harris
Mark Jeffreys
Scotty Johnson
Liz Keating
Meeka Owens
Victoria Parks
Jim Tarbell

Possible - Depending turnout and the mood of the voter, someone in this group could win, but likely no more than one or two could slip into the top 9 and bump 1 or 2 of those with a strong chance out. Some of those in this group could also fall even lower.

Michelle Dillingham
Jackie Frondorf
Galen G. Gordon
Phillip O'Neal
Betsy Sundermann
John Williams
Tom Brinkman
Jamie Castle
Bill Frost
Brian Garry
Kurt Grossman
Evan C. Holt

Not Going to Win  - The hurdles are just too high to overcome the groups above.

Jalen Alford
LaKeisha Cook
Rob Harris
K. A. Heard
Nick Jabin
Andrew Kennedy
John Maher
Peterson W. Mingo
TeAirea R. Powell
Logan-Peter Simmering
Stacey Smith

I look forward to following turnout during the day on Election Day and will be on Twitter @cincyblog on election night.